CMRI Today

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For ex-CMRI priests, go here

The attitude of the CMRI regarding the problems of the past is to say, “that was all from Schuckardt, and things have been much improved since 1984.” They aren’t exactly this explicit, because they know of the fallout with Bishop Musey after Schuckardt’s departure, and of how involved Denis Chicoine was in that. So clearly there was some staying power of Schuckardt’s ideas which have shaped the group today.

The most obvious issue is that Bishop Pivarunas has covered up child sexual abuse that happened in the Schuckardt days but was revealed more recently. While the rest of the Catholic Church has had to put policies in place and post notices about abusers who’ve previously been part of the group, the CMRI has not done this. There is no mention of the accusations of abuse against Brey, Pineau, or Fraser. There’s no mention of the accusation against the nun at Villa Maria. There’s no mentioning the abuse that happened with Schuckardt’s group in 2002, abuse which is an indication of possible intergenerational abuse that occurred while Schuckardt was still part of the group prior to the 1984 split.

One issue is that you can’t undo a lot of the formation you have. If you grow up and learn from an abuser, you will take on many of their negative traits. This is exactly what’s happened with the CMRI. While they’ve removed some of the elements, others have stayed. From reviewing newspaper articles and CMRI current positions, it’s clear that the group decided to remove those aspects of the group that were causing the greatest scandal. For example, shaving girls’ heads was considered a horrible practice, so it was given up. Same for the late-night Masses. They also knew the hard anti-American feeling of Schuckardt needed to go, so they took a softer position regarding America by putting up American flags and taking a more patriotic position. One of the worst aspects that remains with the group is the lack of accountability. Bishop Pivarunas is accountable to no one, so there is no check on his power. Others outside of the group wanted them to join with others, but the CMRI has refused. This lack of accountability is shocking.


The politics of the group are bizarre, as if the "true" church demands political uniformity of conservative anti-liberal, anti-modernist, and anti-communist thought, as if "liberal" elements in the church can't be tolerated, but are heretical and wrong (for example, any anti-Trump or anti-American views are totally denounced by members today). This attitude causes people to sift the entirety of church history, discarding anyone in the past who seems to have held what they deem to be heretical or liberal views -- whether they were saints or doctors doesn't matter. This attitude impacted Schuckardt, where he looked back and discarded much of the past, tossing aside most of American Catholicism. Even more radical people (usually lone wolf types) have thrown out the most important saints and thinkers when they don't fit their views, using conservative standards to sift history. Not even the popes of the past had the audacity to discard and denounce so many saints & theologians.

This is similar to efforts of the radical reformers, except the attitude is to define "Roman Catholicism" as the conservative elements in Catholicism up to the 1950s, tossing aside the entire modern church and much of the previous church. These people claim to be Roman Catholic, but their actions match closer to schisms of the past, people who broke away claiming that "Rome had lost the faith." This attitude has softened since 1989 with Bishop Pivarunas, he being a much more practical leader who understands that bad media attention is damaging to the group, and therefore holds to a position of laying low and intentionally avoiding all political opinions (he was silent on COVID, which helped them to avoid any negative media attention).

The CMRI still holds to the overall attitude however, that only a certain variation of Catholicism is orthodox, all liberal variations being heretical and not Catholic. If you read church history, you'll see this claim being made century after century, where people break away from Rome saying that it was Rome who changed, not them (see Tertullian for an early example of a brilliant mind abandoning Rome when it changed).

What Schuckardt and the CMRI refuse to accept is that it's not dogma that makes you Roman Catholic, but obedience to the current living Pope, no matter if they appear to change teachings and practice. This idea of "he's not a pope even though everyone else thinks so" is a half-baked idea in order to create a church while remaining in communion with the concept of a pope that is to your liking and follows the theology that you think is most correct based on whatever documents and interpretations you want to focus on.

These conservatives deny the legitimacy of political differences in Catholics that have been accepted throughout time (many saints are heretics when held up to modern standards). It's inconceivable to the CMRI that the conservative views of the 20th century weren't the norm for 2000 years. Scholarship has shown that conservative thought was just a trend at one point in time (Pius IX to Pius XII), just one opinion, and that "liberal" or "heretical" elements have as much claim to legitimacy and antiquity.


Another major issue is the quality of the schools. Schuckardt had created a school system (which was no more than the appearance of a school system) where the teachers were totally unqualified. The situation still exists in CMRI schools, where numerous teachers are totally unqualified, and students of multiple grade levels are in one classroom. The school system should’ve been shut down long ago.

The CMRI continues to withhold knowledge from the laity. The congregation is not encouraged to take on high level learning, instead the group thinks that only the priests need to study philosophy or theology. The laymen are encouraged to simple devotions and vocational training only. A vast amount of writing has become available in the last 50 years, and much of this is available through interlibrary loans. However, the group remains in ignorance, and still follows the mindset of Francis Schuckardt in only using books that are approved by the group.

The CMRI has softened its stance and pretends to have released its grip on people. However, there is still an unspoken rule that laity should limit themselves to books from the past, and only books approved by the Catholic Church prior to 1958. This severely limits people. If the CMRI priests themselves don’t condemn a book, they can rely on sympathetic bloggers to condemn writings for the group, calling anything they don’t like “heretical” or “modernist.” The CMRI priests remain silent about these bloggers so that they can deny any wrongdoing on their part.

The CMRI still holds views against women working. This hasn’t been an absolute rule, but they still think that women are primarily to be wives and mothers, and not independent people capable of doing whatever they want. The concept of a women remaining single and becoming a leader in whatever field, is seen as a feminist idea. This comes from Schuckardt, and the traditional Catholic movement in general (SSPX and FSSP hold similar views on women).

Ultimately, the CMRI has not abandoned the mindset of Francis Schuckardt. The group today has only removed the vilest acts that were reported in the media. The group wants to lay low to avoid media attention, while continuing many of the practices that are now hidden behind closed doors.